Emily Cegielski is a senior editor at Observer.
A true Southern Belle, Emily Cegielski, Senior Editor for Observer, began her career in journalism at the University of Mississippi, also known as Ole Miss. She climbed the ranks of journalism, holding several staff writer, copy editor, photographer, and designer positions to get to where she is today. Prior to joining the Observer team, Emily worked as the Director for Digital Media at High Times, where the main topic of interest was cannabis-related stories.
Emily Cegielski considers herself to be made more of Diet Coke than human! Right behind the Diet Coke, she has journalism flowing through her veins. We had a little rendezvous at her desk to find out a little bit more about this incredible journalist, pitching the media, and the items she keeps at her desk to keep her properly caffeinated and functional.
I love how neat and organized your desk looks – everything has its own place. Is this normally how your desk looks when you’re editing?
More or less. I’ll admit that I did tidy everything up for this photo, but I like to start the week with everything in its place. By Friday, I generally have sticky notes (and other bits of paper) all over my desk, and the rest of my stuff begins to spread out into my colleagues’ workspaces 😳.
I spy a water bottle, a diet coke, and a coffee cup claiming “JOURNALISM MATTERS.” Which of these drinks is your morning, afternoon, and/or late-day beverage?
Diet Coke is my all day beverage; I might actually have Diet Coke coursing through my veins instead of blood. I drink an absurd amount of it, so I do my best to make sure I’m also drinking plenty of water. I keep a one-liter Evian bottle in my desk drawer, which I usually fill up around noon and force myself to finish before I leave for the day.
My coffee cup is more motivational than functional. I bought it in the aftermath of the Capital Gazette shooting last year to not only stand in support of the paper and its journalists but also to serve as a reminder of why I got into journalism. Underneath the Capital Gazette logo, the mug reads: “Journalism Matters — today more than ever.”
Can you tell us about the photos you have behind your monitor? Are those friends? Family? Coworkers?
Haha, do people hang up photos of their coworkers at their desks?!? I do love my work friends, but no, I can see them whenever I want during the day. On the left is a pic of my family with some ridiculous photoshopping. On the right, I have photos of me with my boyfriend, my sister and my best friend—people whose faces make me smile even on tough days.
We often see notepads on top of a journalist’s desk which makes sense given their trade. What do you use your notebooks for? Do you have more than just the two?
I honestly have more notebooks and notepads than I could ever count. The main two I use—one for taking notes in meetings and the other for keeping track of all my to do lists—aren’t actually in this photo. I use the the medium-sized pink lined notepad to make lists of things throughout the day (it’s a sticky pad, so I’ll paste individual notes inside my notebook if there are things left to do after work). I use the small blue and green sticky notes to jot down reminders. And I have two larger blank notepads on my desk that I use to work through ideas, map out a complicated story or keep track of anything that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a linear list.
I won’t mention names (cough: Mike Melvin) but some of our team members are huge fans of Apple. Do you own any other Apple products, or devices, besides your desktop?
I love Apple! All of my personal devices (phone, laptop, etc.) are Tim Cook approved.
Please explain what’s on your screen and, also, how do you keep track of all those tabs at once?!
This is my general first thing in the morning, gearing up for the day, screen. I have Tweetdeck open with Twitter lists corresponding to the beats my team covers, so I can quickly see if there’s anything buzzy I should be paying attention to. I scan a bunch of different news sites each morning, but I almost always start with the Wall Street Journal. I also have Reddit open, but that’s generally a later in the day pit stop for me. Those windows all eventually get minimized or closed throughout the day. The other tabs—Parse.ly, Getty and WordPress (along with Gmail, Slack, Asana and a couple of Google Sheets tabs, which are hiding behind Tweetdeck)—stay open all day. I keep all of these windows/tabs in the same position every day, which makes it easy for me to navigate.
Can you tell me about one of the books on your desk?
We get a lot of great books sent to our office, and I have a hard time not taking all of them home with me. The ones I’m on the fence about generally end up on my desk for further consideration—with the exception of John Hodgman’s Medallion Status, which is next on my reading list. I’m currently reading The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a 2007 novel by Mohsin Hamid that is so brilliant, quick and thrilling I can’t believe I’m just now reading it. I also recently finished Heavy by Kiese Laymon, which I whole-heartedly recommend.
I spy a head poking up behind your desk. Who’s that?
My tech reporter, Gabriela Barkho!
Well, I have to mention my Luna Lovegood Funko Pop! figurine. She was a gift from my boyfriend, who can attest to my Harry Potter obsession, and functions as my desk’s good luck charm—she’s been with me at four different offices over the course of my past two jobs.
To find out more about compelling journalists like Emily Cegielski of the Observer and what they think about email pitches, you should head over to our blog, 10 Questions with Bart Schaneman – a report for Marijuana Business Daily. Also, be sure to check out our blog The Type Bar for more tips, templates, and talks with top-tier PR Pros.